Everything You Need to Know Before You Rent a Townhouse in Toronto


Renters might be surprised by how many options they have in Toronto. When you’re younger, your options are probably limited to apartments in multi-family buildings, basements, old apartments above storefronts on main streets, a unit in a house that’s been divided into a duplex or triplex, or a newer condo building.

However, if you have the money to afford the larger space and extra privacy, you can also find several townhomes for rent in Toronto. Renting a townhome or a townhouse is a great option for couples, families, and anyone who wants a bigger space without getting tied down by a mortgage and the responsibilities of homeownership.

Before you rent a townhome, there are a few things you should know. If you’ve rented in the past, some of them may be familiar, but some unique situations come up with townhouses that you should be aware of.

You’re Not Responsible for Repairs

When something breaks or goes very wrong in the townhouse that you rent, it is not your responsibility to pay for fixing it. Ultimately, it is still the landlord’s property, even if you rent all of it. They are responsible for fixing things like broken appliances and leaky roofs.

As a general rule, the landlord should also pay the bills for things like pest control. This does not apply to damage that goes beyond typical wear and tear that you or your guests have caused, even if it’s accidental.

For example, if a burner on your stove stops working because of age, it’s up to your landlord to fix it or replace the stove. If you accidentally start a fire while you’re cooking, you are generally responsible for paying to replace it – which is why you should always have tenant’s insurance that covers your liability and belongings.

Outdoor Maintenance: Agreeing to Terms

Under Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, landlords are unequivocally responsible for maintaining outdoor and common areas, including things like shoveling snow from walkways and driveways. This is pretty straightforward when you rent in a condo or a high-rise apartment building.

Usually, building management will handle shoveling snow and landscaping themselves. This gets a bit more complicated when you’re renting an entire townhouse. Landlords do not want to have to come and shovel your walkway or mow the grass in your backyard. Instead, they can offer a rent abatement in the lease under the condition that you agree to deal with outdoor maintenance.

They may even have the equipment you need, like shovels and a lawn mower for you to use. This is usually the best way to go if you want to rent a townhouse. It will give you more privacy, not to mention the freedom to do things like make a garden in the backyard. If you don’t want to do outdoor maintenance, you may want to consider sticking with high-rise living.

Townhouse backyards don’t tend to be enormous, given the small lot size, but you get more outdoor space than you would in a high-rise. It can come at the cost of handling a lot of homeowner responsibilities, such as raking leaves and basic outdoor maintenance, but it will be well worth the cost when you can enjoy sunny summer afternoons in your own private outdoor space.

Image Source: Unsplash

Renting a Townhouse Will Cost a Bit More

Several reasons why renting out a townhouse can bring higher costs than you might see from a condo or a high-rise. The most obvious reason is space. The more square feet, the more you’re likely to pay in total each month. However, there tends to be some economy of scale.

The smallest bachelor apartments usually have the highest price per square foot, while larger spaces cost less per square foot, even if they have the highest total costs. This makes renting a townhouse a great way to stretch your budget if you’re moving in with a partner.

There may be other cost increases that you should consider. For example, if you’re used to your utilities being included in your rent, that’s unlikely to be the case in a townhouse. The meters will all be for your utilities, so it’s easy for the landlord to pass those costs along.

You Still Share a Wall

You may have moved out of an apartment complex for more space, but one of the defining features of a townhouse is the shared wall. They’re still a denser form of housing, and townhouses are built side-by-side. You may even find yourself wedged between two other neighbors.

What can you do about a shared wall? It’s worth considering when you’re laying out your rooms. You can do things that will help keep the peace like position your TV or speakers so that they don’t direct sound straight into your neighbor’s place. You can also do things like use wall hangings and furniture to muffle the noise as best you can.

Understand How to Protect Yourself from Eviction

If you’ve lived in Toronto for any length of time, you’ve likely heard some horror stories from fellow renters about their landlords. Some great property owners out there are considerate to the people who rent from them and who know the rules around renting property in Ontario.

That said, the industry also has plenty of bad actors, as well as landlords who just don’t understand the rules themselves. Renters who live in a townhouse are uniquely vulnerable to personal use evictions. This is where the landlord can legally evict you with the claim that they are moving themselves or a close family member into the house that you rent.

The process will begin with an N12 notice to evict you. There are cases where landlords legitimately do want to move themselves or a close family member into a unit that they own, but it can also be a way for landlords to circumvent Ontario’s unique rent control rules. By turning over the apartment from one tenant to another, they can set the rent at whatever they want again.

To protect yourself against this type of misuse of the law, make sure you know your rights as a tenant and how to dispute an eviction, though this applies to renting in any type of building. Renting a townhouse can give you more space without having to leave the city. It’s a great solution for people with more money to spend on rent, giving you more privacy and room to decorate your home.